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THE

QUARTERLY REVIEW.

Art. 1.-1. Librorum Impressorum qui in Museo Britannico

ad servantur Catalogus. * Londini, 1813-1819. 8 vols. Svo. 2. Bibliothecæ Regiæ Catalogus. Londini, excudebant Gul.

Bowyer et Gul. Nicol. 1820. 5 vols., folio. [Privately printed

at the expense of His Majesty King George įV.] 3. Catalogus Librorum typis impressorum qui in Regia Bibli

otheca Borbonica adservantur. Neapoli, 1832. Folio, vol. i.

(containing letters A., B.). 4. Report from the Select Committee on the Condition, Manage

ment, and Affairs of the British Museum. With Appendixes.

1835. 2 vols., folio. 5. Literatur früherer und noch bestehender Europäischer öffent

licher und Corporations- Bibliotheken. Zusammengestellt von Ernst Gustav Vogel, Privatlehrer zu Dresden. Leipzig, 1840.

8vo. 6. Catalogue of Printed Books in the Library of the British

Museum. Printed by order of the Trustees. "London. 1842.

Folio, vol. i. (containing letter A). 7. Bibliotheca Grenvilliana; or, Bibliographical Notices of Rare

and Curious Books, forming part of the Library of the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville. By John Thomas Payne and Henry

Foss. London. 1842. 2 vols. 8vo. THERE

are few things which at first sight appear more easy than the compilation of a catalogue of printed books. We look with complacency upon the well-filled shelves of our own library, and think it useless to register the titles of those volumes which are constantly in our sight, and frequently consulted; whose names are familiar in our mouths as household words. On a time some book is wanted ; we know that we have it, but the author's name has slipped from our memory; the volume provokingly eludes our search, and we unthinkingly exclaim, We will have a catalogue; a mere alphabetical list; it is only to copy or abridge the title-pages. We almost despise the easy labour: we begin. not foreseeing any impediment to our progress, and we go on until some anonymous volume with a quaint title-page puzzles us with the question, "Where will you put me?' Glad to escape

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VOL. LXXII. NO. CXLIII.

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from the present difficulty, yet ashamed to allow it to be such, we still more unthinkingly exclaim, “We will. class our books under their subjects.' Again we begin-on our new plan, and again all goes on well—for a time. At length we open a book which is neither theology, law, history, medicine, astronomy, geology, nor any other wholesome and definite ology. We ponder its contents, in the vain hope of being able to assign to them a local habitation and a name, until, baffled in our endeavours, and desperate of success, we put the volume under the head · Miscellaneous;' a mode of procedure just as scientific as would be that of a botanist, who, doubtful of the class of a particular plant, should put it among · Weeds.'

Simple as this may seem, it affords a key to the meaning of much that has been done, and done in vain. It will account in some degree for the variety of plans which have been adopted in making alphabetical catalogues of books, and for the numerous abortive attempts at an analytical arrangement of their subjects. Numerous as are libraries, innumerable as are catalogues, scarcely can any two libraries be found which nearly agree in their arrangeinents, or which are catalogued upon the same principles ; and wide indeed are the discrepancies between the various schemes which have been proposed for systematising the whole range of human knowledge. Î'urn to those Procrustean modes for forcing all the varied imaginations of man's heart within some definite limits — the encyclopædias. The most bulky of these huge manuals, that which bears the name of Rees, purports to be alphabetical, yet in it whole sciences are placed under one word ; whilst the best of those which profess to be based upon analysis, and which, in the composition of its details, may challenge a comparison with any other, the Encyclopædia Metropolitana,' has no less than six volumes, one-fifth part of its whole, as matter not within the

compass any of its great divisions, nor reducible to system, but arranged alphabetically, that is, as miscellaneous, or, to pursue our illustration, as · Weeds.'

It is this residuum, this caput mortuum, which more than all things else has hitherto baffled, as it will continue to baffle, the bibliographers in their attempts at classification.

Of the number of works which have been printed since the year 1450 there exist no sufficient data to enable us to form a certain estimate; and, so far as we know, the Statistical Society have not yet grappled with the subject. The number of volumes claimed to be possessed by the twelve greatest libraries of Europe is as follows :*_The Bibliothèque du Roi, at Paris, 650,000; Munich, 500,000 (of which one-fifth at the least are duplicates); Copenha* We quote these numbers from the Appendix to the Report on the British Museum.

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